- Hardcover: 384 pages
- Publisher: Algonquin Books; 1st edition (March 24, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1616203846
- ISBN-13: 978-1616203849
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.3 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 20 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #967,879 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Wisdom of Perversity Hardcover – March 24, 2015
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“The sly courage, the deft intelligence, and the fierceness of vision that we, his fans, have come to expect from a Rafael Yglesias novel all blaze brightly forth--and cast very dark shadows--in The Wisdom of Perversity.” —Michael Chabon, author of Telegraph Avenue
“Child molestation is an ugly subject event when seen from a distance, and Yglesias pulls the readers inside the children’s heads. The outrage is intense . . . This makes the reader feel exactly what the girl feels: violated. Not that it ever happened to me--but it could have. If I hadn’t told.” —Miami Herald
“Yglesias delivers a powerful message about victimization, healing, and empowerment in a novel that is as timely as it is poignant.” —Booklist
“Many contemporary works of fiction are bold, but few are this courageous. With The Wisdom of Perversity, Rafael Yglesias has written a frightening, evocative, and intensely compassionate novel that manages somehow to do the impossible, shedding light on one of the darkest corners of this human theater.” —Helen Schulman, author of This Beautiful Life
“[A]n affecting novel that is big-screen lurid without being superficial or too slick . . . [with] a touch of Agatha Christie-like mystery.” —Kirkus Reviews
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I do not get a lot of time to read and this was worth every minute that I was able to squeeze in. I am guessing that this book will be on Oprah's reading list very soon.
Rafael Yglesias has been outspoken about his own abuse at age 8 and it would seem that some of this book is autobiographical. There is no doubt that a screenwriter in this book is Roman Polanski, whom the author worked with on "Death and the Maiden". The question arises as to whether any of the other characters are real people. But whether they are or not isn't integral to the power of the story.
The explicitness of the abuse scenes will cause you to live inside these children and suffer each moment of their indignity along with them. While so many traumatized children such as these never speak of the crime perpetrated upon them, this book gives those children a voice so their story can be heard.
I won this book in a giveaway with the understanding that an honest review would be given.
Having said all that, this is also a very well-written novel with many levels of suspense which keep you turning the pages until the very end. You will feel invested in these characters and want to discover how the story ends, which in many ways is also a beginning.
I received this from LibraryThing Members Giveaway for an honest review.
What Yglesias does well in The Wisdom of Perversity is illustrate the lingering feelings of shame and helplessness victims of abuse carry into adulthood. Despite their best efforts to move past the emotional trauma associated with Stein the memory never fades, ambushing them in their weakest moments. Yglesias also challenges the idea that one type of abuse is better or worse than another. Though Brian was 'only diddled' and Jeff was anally raped, their suffering all these years later is indistinguishable, it's clear it is not so much about the physical act but the emotional repercussions.
Steins predatory nature is truly horrifying. He seduces the parents of his victims with bonhomie and largesse, so that the children feel unable to seek their help. The scene in which he abuses Julie while in the midst a roomful of adults, was incredibly distressing to read, and the powerlessness of the children is heartbreaking.
Unfortunately I didn't relate to any of the characters as adults, though I was sympathetic to them. Brian is a successful screenwriter with intimacy issues, Julie is a unhappily married library archivist with a teenage son, and Jeff, on his third marriage, is a famous film director. Exposing Stein has the potential to devastate their personal and professional lives.
Said to be inspired by the molestation Yglesias suffered at age 8, The Wisdom of Perversity is a challenging read, especially in terms of the subject matter, but ends on a surprisingly hopeful note.